- On 21st April 2023 the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in AHGR Limited v Kane-Laverack (2023) EWCA Civ 428. The case was a second appeal and serves as a very recent example of the principles of construction in operation. The leading judgment was delivered by Dingemans LJ. He began by saying: “This appeal raises the issue of the proper construction of the phrase “live/work”, in a clause in a 999 year lease dated 20 August 2002 of a leasehold flat of Unit 8, Bickels Yard, 151-153 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3HA (“the premises”). The Bickels Yard development was a mixed development of flats, offices, and one “live/work” unit.”.
2. AHGR was the freehold owner of Bickels Yard. Luke Kane-Laverack purchased the lease of the premises on 23rd October 2009. Post his purchase the premises were used exclusively as a single dwelling house. The premises were a two bedroom, two bathroom premises with the second bedroom functioning as a study.
3. In October 2013 Luke and Peter Kane-Laverack (a doctor and a barrister respectively) applied to the Local Authority for a certificate of lawful use of the premises as a single dwelling house residential flat.
4. Subsequently AHGR brought proceedings in 2019, alleging breach of the live/work covenant, on the basis that it required the premises to be both lived in and worked in. The Trial Judge (HHJ Johns KC) and the initial Appeal Judge (Meade J) both dismissed the claim, deciding that the phrase “live/work” in the lease meant “live and/or work”. The Court of Appeal agreed.
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